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5 Steps to a Winning Social Media Marketing Plan

What is the single most important action you can take to improve your chances of success in implementing a social media campaign? Create a well-researched and carefully thought out social media marketing plan, which lays the foundation for executing a winning social media campaign. Although there is no concrete roadmap to crafting an effective social media marketing plan, there are guideposts that can direct you along the way. The following 5 Steps provide the guidance you will need to develop a successful social media marketing plan.

Step 1: Establish Definitive and Measurable Goals. Social media marketing goals include, improving brand awareness, search engine rankings, relevant site traffic, and conversions performance (e.g., sales for a product or service), as well as reputation management and engaging with consumers.

The challenge for some of these goals, such as engaging with consumers, is to make them specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely (SMART). In addition, objectives must be established for each type of social media platform in order to maximize results. The following are examples of SMART goals for four popular social media platforms: blogs, microblogs (Twitter), social networking sites, as well as image and video sharing sites:

Blogs:

  • 20% improvement in the ratio of posts to comments (i.e., visitor’s comments/posts=conversions) within six months
  • 30% increase in total number of unique visitors within six months
  • 20% increase in average number of unique visitors within six months
  • 40% growth in total number of views within six months
  • 10% growth of RSS subscribers within six months
  • 5% growth of RSS feed requests within six months

Microblogs (Twitter):

  • 20% growth in number of followers within 30 days
  • 30% growth in the number of retweets (message amplification) within 30 days
  • 10% increase in click-through-rate (CTR) of the links posted in tweets within 30 days (Hint: Observing which types of links garner the highest CTRs can help you tune your tweets to provide what your consumers with links they are interested in and, hence, further improve your CTR.)
  • 15% increase in visits to Web site from tweet links within 30 days
  • 10% growth in time on Web site from tweet links within 30 days
  • 5% increase in Web site conversions (e.g., sales) from tweet links within 30 days

Social Networking Sites:

  • 20% growth in the number of friends within five months
  • 30% growth in the number of comments within five months
  • 40% growth in the number of posts and comments in discussion groups within five months
  • 20% increase in the ratio of comments on uploaded videos to number of videos uploaded within five months
  • 20% increase in the ratio of comments on photos uploaded to number of photos uploaded within five months
  • 30% growth in the number of comments left on profiles within five months
  • 50% growth in the number of questions answered or asked within five months

Image and Video Sharing Sites:

  • 30% growth in the number of images or videos viewed within four months
  • 20% growth in the number of unique visitors within four months
  • 10% increase in the number of subscribers to your channel or stream within four months
  • 30% increase in the ratio of comments on images or videos to the number of images or videos uploaded within four months
  • 15% growth in the number of embedded links to your images or videos (i.e., links from other sites to your images or videos) within four months
  • 30% increase in average rankings of images or videos by viewers within four months

Step 2: Identify Your Target Market Who is your intended audience (target market)? Where do they hangout on the social Web? How do they participating on these social media platforms? Forrester Research’s “Social Technographics Profile” enables you to use age, location, and gender to identify the type of activity people are engaged in on the social Web, such as create content, critique, collect, spectate, and so on. Depending on what they do, you can determine which social media platform they are likely to frequent. As an example, spectators are not likely to participate in social network like Facebook or LinkedIn, while they might watch YouTube videos and read blogs, but not comment on the posts.

Step 3: Conduct a Competitive Analysis. What are the trends in social media (i.e., which platforms are growing, which are declining?). What needs are not being meet by your competitors? Who will be your main competitors? What are the best practices in social media marketing? Conduct a SWOT Analysis, identifying your company’s strengths, weaknesses, along with the opportunities and threats in the marketplace and economy.

Step 4: Design innovative strategies. Select the optimal social media platforms to reach your target market. Then, construct a specialized strategy for each social media platform to achieve the tailored goals for each platform. Each social media medium has distinctive features and means of communication. For example, a corporate blog strategy will differ markedly from the strategy you use to achieve your goals on social network like LinkedIn. In other words, a one-sized strategy doesn’t fit all.

Hence, you must adjust the following 8 C’s of the Social Media Marketing Mix for each social media platform. Here are some suggestions on how to accomplish this feat:

  • Categorize social media platforms by target market relevancy(i.e., the ones where your target audience resides)
  • Comprehend the “rules of the road” on the platform by listening and learning how to behave, successfully spark conversation, and engage and energize the participants
  • Converse by acknowledging and responding to other users of the platform, always remembering to be a contributor, not a promoter
  • Collaborate with platform members as a means of establishing a mutually beneficial relationships with the platform participants
  • Contribute contentto build your reputation and become a valued member, helping to build the community
  • Connect with the influencers, so you can enlist them to help shape opinions about your product or service
  • Community creation enables you to build discussion forums where consumers suggest ideas and receive customer support.
  • Conversion of strategy execution into desired outcomes (e.g., increased brand awareness, website traffic, sales, etc.)

Step 5: Monitor, Measure, and Tune. Accessing your progress, then tune your marketing plan based on the feedback to optimize goal achievement. Reevaluate and adjust your social media marketing plan to account for the ever changing nature of consumer tastes and the social Web. For example, if the number of viewers and subscribers to your blog are declining, you can adjust your content to more closely match your target market’s interests. If the number of comments on your blog posts is declining, you can adjust your strategy by asking a question at the end of each post that inspires people to respond. In short, planning and executing a social media marketing campaign is a never ending cycle. You should constantly monitor and tune your strategies to maximize the impact of your campaign.

For more information and resources on planning social media marketing campaigns, be sure to visit my blog at www.SocialMediaMarketingResources.info.

Marketing Plan Template Help – The Most Undervalued Component

If you are using a marketing plan template or software to create your plan, one of the best things you can do is to create a foundation for and include consistent activities related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search Engine Optimization by definition (Wikipedia) is: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a web site or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. The goal is to be displayed as highly as possible on the first page of search results in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing for search phrases that involve your business service or product.

There is a misconception about what SEO means for a business… It is NOT about ranking highly for your company name (unless your company name exactly matches your service).

Let’s look at an example of this. Let’s say a company name is Giant Demolition, Inc. and their website address is giantdemolition.com. When somebody searches in the Google search bar for, giant demolition, then giantdemolition.com had BETTER come up first!

Getting ranked for the exact website name is the by-product of performing just a few easy tasks within the website and does not mean that your website is properly optimized! This is especially true for a.com domain (as opposed to .net, .org, .info, etc.).

Search engine optimization involves an action plan for ranking highly when people are searching for your type of product or service, not your exact company. Relatively, nobody is searching for your company name compared to the number of people searching for your type of product. Let’s look at a real example to illustrate the point.

Let’s take an example of a company that is a leader in its industry and spends millions of dollars in advertising every year.

Over 33,300 people type in Papa Johns into Google, per day. That is a whole lot of people searching for a company name, but let’s look at how many people search for the product type…

680,000 people per day type in the term pizza in Google.

So even for an industry leader that advertises a ton, they are searched for by name less than 5% of all searches for their product. Believe me that your small business is searched by name much less than 5% of all searches for your type of product.

But get this, it doesn’t matter!

You can capture the people that are searching for your type of product or service and direct them to your site. The best time to capture new visitors is when they are already on their computer searching for your exact product/service. Alternatively, a marketing campaign might involve a giant billboard with your website in huge writing, but it is very difficult for people to remember the website address exactly right, if they remember to even try to once they are in front of a computer. A much more immediate approach with less opportunity for error involves targeting them while they are looking for your product online.

Once you then attain a high ranking through Search Engine Optimization, then with just a little consistent effort on a weekly basis you can keep this ranking and it can pay you back repeatedly with new customers day after day for many years! That is the beauty of SEO, since the cost of this maintenance is just a fraction of the cost of how much the advertising would cost to get the same amount of paid traffic to your site.

In our last example, do you know how much traffic the #1 search result for pizza gets? Well the top result is http://www.Dominos.com and it likely gets at least about 5,000 (~ 40% Google searches for the exact search for keyword pizza) visitors per day from the term pizza…for FREE. Alternatively, the #1 paid search result at the time of this writing for the exact search for pizza spends about $1.14 per click ( www.pizzahut.com ), so would need to spend $5,700 per day to get the same amount of traffic to their site!

That is the power of search engine optimization…

Free vs. $5,700/day.

So when it comes to selecting a marketing plan template, selecting one that includes Search Engine Optimization can make the difference in your marketing success.

Real Secrets That Info Marketers Don’t Want You to Know!

“This online business system runs itself! Earn money in your sleep and wake up to millions in passive income!” Could anything be more seductive (or misleading) than the promise of big income for little effort? Info-Marketers, those folks who make their money telling you how to make money, promise you an amazing income online if you follow their “proven” systems. What they’re not telling you is the best-kept secret in online business.

No Business Runs Itself
What info-marketers, even the most well-intentioned, aren’t telling you is that no business runs itself. Even a business intended to create passive income (income for which you don’t do actual work) requires set-up and maintenance to be successful.

Here’s what an online business start-up typically involves:

1. Actual products to Sell
2. Squeeze Pages to Build Your Email List
3. Well Written, Persuasive, Search Engine Optimized Sales Pages
4. A Shopping Cart Connection to Manage Sales, Refunds and Payments
5. Regularly Scheduled Ezines Sent to Your List
6. Autoresponder Series to Stay in Touch with Your List
7. Regular Blog Posts to Drive Traffic to Your Website
8. Product Launch Strategies That Incorporate All of the Above

How much of this do you suppose happens by itself? You’re right-none of it! Even the best-packaged online sales system, complete with blog, ezine, sales letter, autoresponder and squeeze page templates, requires someone to actually implement it.

Is that what you had planned when you began dreaming of making millions online? Probably not, and that’s why so many online business fail. It requires hard work and strategic thinking to set up and maintain a “passive income” business.

Does that mean, then, that no one should set up shop online? Of course not! What it does mean is that, before you take the leap and purchase a packaged online business system, you should decide who’s going to do all the work.

Most online entrepreneurs start their businesses while still working full-time jobs. Any work to set up and build an Internet business requires late hours and weekends spent in front of a computer. There are decisions to be made, products to be created, sales pages to be built, shopping cart interfaces to populate and marketing strategies to develop.

If you’re happy to do all those things and sacrifice your sleep for months, good luck and happy selling! If you want to build a sustainable business, however, that doesn’t require your every waking hour, consider working with a Virtual Assistant from the beginning.

Today’s Virtual Assistants, administrative professionals who support businesses from a remote location, have a wide range of valuable skills. Many “VAs” specialize in setting up and maintaining the components of an online business, working in tandem with you to create the best combination of marketing, product creation and customer service for your target audience.

Because Virtual Assistants are business owners, too, they pay their own taxes, office expenses and other costs associated with hiring traditional employees. Working from their own offices for several clients at once, they bill only for the hours spent supporting each client.

It’s the perfect situation, really, for a budding online business owner. She’s there when you need her, not costing you money when you don’t, and your business is being set up and maintained even if you work a full-time job.

Now that you know the best-kept secret in online business, that businesses don’t really run themselves, you can make better choices about how to start your own company. Consider working with a Virtual Assistant right from the start to build a business that makes money and allows you the time to enjoy it.